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Tatar-Bashkir Report: March 22, 2004

22 March 2004
Unified Russia To Claim All Key Positions In New Parliament
Unified Russia party deputies, representing an overwhelming majority in the newly elected Tatar State Council, on 19 March elected 15 representatives for the 24 March discussion on the parliament's first agenda, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The four Communist Party deputies and deputies elected in the single-mandate districts, who also include Unified Russia representatives, are yet to come up with the lists of their delegates. Unified Russia deputies won 46 out of 50 seats distributed according to party lists, and 39 out of 50 seats in single-mandate districts (see "RFE/RL Tatar-Bashkir Report," 18 March 2004). Summing up the results of the 14 March parliamentary vote, State Council chairman and leader of Unified Russia's branch in Tatarstan Farid Mukhametshin said that unlike the previous Tatar- and male-dominated parliament, the new State Council has 52 ethnic Tatars, 36 ethnic Russians, one Chuvash, and one Greek, while the share of female deputies has increased from 5 to 13 percent. Mukhametshin also noted that his party intended to claim all the key posts in the parliament and is not planning on bargaining with the Communists.

Daily Says Protest Votes Hit Record High
Although Unified Russia's victory in the recent parliamentary elections in Tatarstan was widely predicted, no analysts could predict the unprecedented popularity of voting against all candidates, "Vremya i Dengi" wrote on 19 March. In the 14 March elections, "against all" was the second-most popular choice in 14 of 50 single-mandate districts and the third choice in 26. The business daily said "this fact unveiled a strange trend" as most voters had to choose from the top managers of major local companies. This, the paper said, revealed a lack of local trust.

Security Council Discusses Republic's Drug Problem
Shamil Davletguideev, head of the federal Drug Control Department's board in Tatarstan, told a meeting of the republican Security Council on 19 March that, despite the efforts at promoting a healthy lifestyle among local young people, drug addiction rates had grown in the last two years, RFE/RL's Kazan bureau reported today. The rate increased by 2 percent in 2002 and by 4.2 percent in 2003. In 2001, the rate of drug addiction grew by as much as 33 percent. According to official statistics, 7,200 drug addicts are currently registered in Tatarstan, 70 percent of them young people between the ages of 15 and 29. Previous reports in the Russian and Tatar media cited some researchers as saying that the actual figure was likely to be 10 or 12 times as high.

25 Percent Of Tatarstan's Orphans Adopted By Foreigners
One out of four Tatar orphans adopted in 2003 went to a foreign family, "Vechernyaya Kazan" wrote on 20 March, citing the republic's Education Ministry. The report was based on a survey of 300 orphans. This percentage has remained stable for the last several years and, in 2003, 71 children from local orphanages moved to the United States, Canada, and Spain.

Compiled by Iskender Nurmi

Anniversary Of Soviet Bashkir Autonomy Marked
Speaking at a conference devoted to the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Bashkir Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic on 18 March in Ufa, Bashkir Deputy Prime Minister Khelef Ishmoratov promoted special, increased rights for Russia's national republics, including Bashkortostan. "If attempts to turn national republics into governorates are continued, the country will again fall under threat of disintegration," Ishmoratov said. Marat Qolsheripov, a history professor at Bashkir State University, said at the forum that the 1919 document that set up the Bashkir Autonomous Republic still maintains its historical value as it contributes to the preservation of federalism in Russia. A separate Bashkir republic was established in 1919 in opposition to the Tatar-Bashkir Republic, which was being promoted by Tatar leaders.

Forum Calls To Rename Major Street After Bashkir Hero
At a roundtable discussing Turkic issues on 19 March in Ufa, participants called for the renaming of Ufa's biggest October Avenue after Bashkir national hero Salawat Yulaev, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported the same day. The proposal has already been expressed in the republic's Bashkir-language media. Historians, ethnologists, and activists from the republic's national civic groups agreed to appeal to the republic's leadership on the issue. The forum was organized by the Bashkir Culture and National Policy Ministry, the Ethnology Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences' Ufa Scientific Center, and the Bashkir branch of the Russian Historical Archive Society.

Rural Raions Show Presidential Election Results Reminiscent Of Soviet Era
According to a report by Bashkir Central Election Commission Chairman Baryi Kinjegulov, over 89 percent of Bashkortostan's electorate participated in the 14 March Russian presidential elections and 92 percent of them voted for President Vladimir Putin, an RFE/RL Ufa correspondent reported on 21 March. In the republic's Borai and Buzdek raions, Putin received over 99 percent of the vote, while in Baltach Raion, the incumbent received 99.77 percent. The republic's official media said the results were evidence of the political ripeness of the Bashkir people. According to the state news agency Bashinform, foreign observers who noted violations during the campaign, have no right to judge elections in Russia.

Arms Smugglers Arrested In Ufa
A criminal group involved in smuggling arms from Chechnya to Bashkortostan was detained in Ufa on 18 March by the Bashkir Interior Ministry, the republican Federal Security Service, and the prosecutor's office, RIA-Novosti, RosBalt, and other news agencies reported. Three Chechnya residents and one Ufa resident were arrested. In the latter's home in Ufa, three Kalashnikov assault rifles, seven Makarov pistols, four silencers, eight grenades, and over 400 cartridges were seized. A car that was allegedly used for arms smuggling was also found.

Compiled by Gulnara Khasanova